Chinese Man Sues Government Over Smog

Alexis Petru
| Tuesday March 4th, 2014 | 0 Comments

China smogChina is infamous for its dangerously high levels of air pollution, and now one man is suing the government for failing to reduce the toxic smog.

Li Guixin, who lives in a major industrial region of northern China surrounding Beijing, filed a complaint with a district court, urging the city’s environmental department to improve its efforts to control air pollution, Reuters reported last week. Li is the first person to bring such a lawsuit forward against the government.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

podium[Your News Here]

Sustainability and Catastrophic Risk: What Business Leaders Can Learn from BP

3p Contributor | Tuesday March 4th, 2014 | 0 Comments
An oil slick glistens on the surface at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill site in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

An oil slick glistens on the surface at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill site in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

By Jay Apt

It is natural for our optimistic and energetic MBA students to look at the upside of decisions, and to maximize the returns on their firm’s investment in the minimum time. But that isn’t always a strategy for sustainability, either for the firm or for the planet.

Imagine that you are the leader of the largest railway signal-and-control company in the world’s fastest-growing economy. Your firm supplies its technology to more than 20 countries. Your market share in those countries far eclipses your competitors’ shares combined, and your investment of profits into reducing manufacturing costs will keep it that way. Life is good, and you are happy that you have balanced profit maximizing with mitigating business risks by investing in meeting the needs of your customers. You are grooming your daughter to take over the business, and look forward to the third generation coming along shortly.

Then a low-probability event of enormous consequence happens. Lightning strikes a high-speed rail line, and wrong signals are flashed. One high-speed train crashes into the rear of another on a bridge. Forty people are killed and 191 injured. A Cabinet investigation receives worldwide coverage. The investigation finds flawed development of the signaling equipment, poor quality and slipshod inspections by safety professionals. Your dreams of a generations-long business lie with the wreckage of the ruined trains.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Extended Power Outage Tests High-Performance House

Sarah Lozanova | Tuesday March 4th, 2014 | 2 Comments

green building My family experienced a five-day power outage last December after a Maine ice storm. The temperature of our neighbor’s house dropped to near freezing after one night. Despite having below freezing temperatures, even subzero weather, our house remained pretty comfortable. The indoor temperature dropped by only 2 degrees daily, with no supplemental heat. While neighbors scrambled to hook up generators and space heaters to keep the pipes from freezing, we knew our house wouldn’t freeze. What is our secret?

We live in a house where the design was guided by the Passive House Standard at Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage. ”Build it nice and tight, face it to the south, not towards the road, and put most of your glass on the south,” explains GO Logic foreman John White. GO Logic, the builder of our house has designed and constructed two Passive House-certified homes in Maine.

The solar orientation and south-facing windows make a noticeable difference on sunny days. During the only sunny day of the outage, the indoor temperature in our home increased by 7 degrees. Even with the temperature below zero outside, our indoor temperature will increase by 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the course of the day. With a solar system, the homes can be near net-zero, meaning that the solar array can generate as much as the house consumes over the course of a year.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Apple CEO Tim Cook Tells Climate Deniers to Take a Hike

RP Siegel | Monday March 3rd, 2014 | 6 Comments

Apple_Computer_Logo_rainbow.svgTim Cook, Apple’s CEO and successor to Steve Jobs, is generally known as a man who, unlike his predecessor, has a cool head and does not let his emotions influence his decisions or his behavior on the job. But that is apparently not the case when it comes to global warming. Nothing seems to get him steamed up more than a group of climate deniers, like the group that recently attended Apple’s annual shareholder meeting last Friday.

In attendance were representatives from the National Center for Public Policy Research (NPCCR), a self described “conservative think tank and policy institute,” that issued a statement before the meeting suggesting that the company renounce any environmentally-based activities that don’t contribute directly to the bottom line.

The proposal, which was submitted by NCPPR General Counsel Justin Danhof, said: “We object to increased government control over company products and operations, and likewise mandatory environmental standards. This is something [Apple] should be actively fighting, not preparing surrender.”

Danhof went so far as to suggest that this proposal be taken up as a pledge to be voted on by shareholders in the meeting. The proposal was voted on and soundly rejected, but not before Cook took the opportunity to comment. “We do a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive,” he said. “We want to leave the world better than we found it.”

Those objecting to the company’s principled stand on the environment, said Cook, were welcome “to get out of the stock.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Caesars Supports Marriage Equality with a Wedding Giveaway

Alexis Petru
| Monday March 3rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Marriage equalityNew Jersey became the fourteenth state to legalize gay marriage last October, and now Caesars Entertainment is joining in the festivities, offering one lucky couple an extravagant $50,000 wedding package at one of the company’s Caesars, Harrah’s, Bally’s and Showboat resorts and casinos in Atlantic City.

Dubbed the “Love Is Love” giveaway, the prize features a wedding ceremony and reception for 100 guests, a cocktail hour, dinner, custom cake designed by celebrity chef Deb Pellegrino, two-hour open bar, photographers, flowers and entertainment. The winning couple will also receive bachelor or bachelorette parties, a day-after brunch for up to 50 guests and luxury accommodations for their guests and themselves.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Copper, Salmon and Healthy Waters: EPA Puts a Halt to Pebble Mine Project

| Monday March 3rd, 2014 | 3 Comments

Salmon fisherman, Bristol Bay, Alaska, USAAny form of economic decision-making–whether to invest in a coal mine or solar power project, to buy this brand of good or product or that–comes replete with trade-offs, particularly when it comes natural resource development. We rely on markets and private sector businesses and investors, working within the context of public sector governance, to guide and approve, or disapprove, of those decisions.

Such trade-offs are clearly in evidence in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed, one of the world’s richest, most productive and few remaining wild salmon fisheries. Bristol Bay is also the site of the proposed Pebble Mine, envisioned by project developers as one of the world’s largest open-pit copper mines.

Concerned about Pebble Mine’s impact on the Bristol Bay fishery and watershed–which provides basic ecosystem services, such as water, food and shelter, and sustainable livelihoods for communities throughout the area, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this past week invoked Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act in initiating a process “to identify appropriate options to protect the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska from the potentially destructive impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

A Reply to the IOC’s Response on Human Rights in Sochi

3p Contributor | Monday March 3rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

SochiBy Michael Kourabas

On Feb. 10, as the 2014 Winter Olympics were about to kick off in Sochi, Russia, I wrote a post arguing that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) may have acted contrary to the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), flowing from the IOC’s decision to allow Russia to host the 2014 Winter Games. That post was linked to by the Business & Human Rights Resource Center, which went on to request comment from the IOC. To my surprise, the IOC actually responded. Given that the IOC found the time to respond to me, I thought it only proper to return the favor.
The IOC’s response can be broken down into two basic arguments:

  • First, the UNGPs do not apply to the IOC because the IOC is not your run-of-the-mill corporation; and

  • Second, even if the UNGPs do apply, and to the extent that Russia engaged in human rights violations in preparation for the games (as others have documented and I summarized), the IOC complied with the UNGPs by addressing those violations.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Los Angeles Shuts the Door on Fracking’s ‘Red Queen’

| Monday March 3rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

fracking bubble red queen effectLast week, Los Angeles joined the growing list of cities and towns banning, at least temporarily, gas and oil fracking within their borders. The main concerns are over public health and water resource preservation, but economic impacts and property values also come into play.  The news comes on the heels of yet another article in the mainstream press that paints a picture of the fracking industry as a swelling bubble that will make a loud and messy noise when it pops.

Part of the reason why the fracking industry is so bloated right now is something that our friends over at Fuel Fix have dubbed the “Red Queen” effect, after the fictional Lewis Carroll character, so let’s take a look at the Los Angeles decision in that context.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Walmart’s Concept Hybrid Truck Would Make a More Efficient Fleet

Sarah Lozanova | Monday March 3rd, 2014 | 7 Comments

sustainability walmartWhile the fuel economy of cars has increased dramatically over the last few decades, the fuel economy of semis has merely inched its way up. Two interesting developments may improve things for these gas-guzzling vehicles that get between 4 and 8 miles per gallon. President Barack Obama recently announced greater EPA standards for the fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks, and Walmart unveiled its futuristic next-generation concept truck.

The cab of the Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience (WAVE) concept truck looks reminiscent of a bullet train, with a sleek, aerodynamic appearance that blends into the trailer. It features a microturbine hybrid power train with an electric motor and a battery. Because the front end is so tapered, the driver sits in the middle and the entry door slides open. The innovative trailer is made of 53-foot-long sheets of carbon fiber and is the first trailer to be made out of this strong and lightweight material.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Bing to Put Brazil’s Favelas on the Map

Alexis Petru
| Monday March 3rd, 2014 | 1 Comment

Rio de Janeiro favelaHow can you provide social services or start a new business when your city doesn’t even show up on a map? That’s the reality for millions of Brazilians living in favelas, or shantytowns, in Rio de Janeiro: Less than 1 percent of these densely populated urban areas have been mapped, according to Microsoft search engine Bing.

But the Google competitor hopes it can put Rio’s favelas on the map, embarking on a long-term project to bring its computational power and mapping infrastructure to the city set to host this year’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Bing announced its new initiative during February’s Global Innovation Summit in San Jose, Calif.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

NatCap13: 100 Days Later

3p Contributor | Saturday March 1st, 2014 | 1 Comment
Jochen Zeitz, Dieter Helm, Jo Confino, Monika Weber-Fahr and Julia Marton-Lefevre 100 days ago.

Jochen Zeitz, Dieter Helm, Jo Confino, Monika Weber-Fahr and Julia Marton-Lefevre 100 days ago.

By Mike Elm

On Nov. 21-22, 2013, Scotland played host to 500 delegates from more than 30 countries who came together for the inaugural World Forum on Natural Capital. One of the main aims of the World Forum was to move the debate on natural capital forward to action.

Today is the 100th day since the conference started, and exciting developments are taking place across the world. Just this week at The Economist’s World Oceans Summit, attended by influential global figures including the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, natural capital was a prominent theme. This reflects the fact that natural capital accounting is gaining prominence across international organizations from the private, public and voluntary sectors. Indeed Christine Lagarde used her recent Dimbleby Lecture to say that pricing environmental damage correctly is essential, “because it will help to reduce the harm today and spur investment.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

3p Weekend: 10 U.S. Companies That Pay Above Minimum Wage

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday February 28th, 2014 | 7 Comments
Fast food workers strike for higher wages in New York City last summer.

Fast food workers strike for higher wages in New York City last summer.

With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday (starting today) TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

With the federal minimum wage increase a hot topic on everyone’s mind, this week we rounded up 10 U.S. companies that pay each of their employees a living wage. You may be surprised by who made the list.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

FDA’s High-Tech (and Still Confusing) Nutrition Labels for 2016

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Friday February 28th, 2014 | 0 Comments
New_nutrition_label_FDA

Proposed nutrition label

For those who find that trying to read a nutrition label on a package of food is something akin to trying to decipher the jargon on last year’s climate change report, good news: the FDA now hears you.

This week the federal government proposed some changes to the 1993 nutrition labeling system that we find on packaged foods in supermarkets. They aren’t huge and they aren’t jazzy, but even my nutritionist dad would have been impressed with the tweaks.

After all, if you want someone to remember the information, give them the facts first, right? Most of us are wowed by numbers, not by scientific names for the pieces and parts that make up our food. To many of us, 5 percent saturated fat speaks a lot more plainly than “saturated fat 1 gram.”

The newest edition to the label is the “Added Sugars” line, which is no doubt directed at educating us about the sugar that often gets added to our food during preparation. It’s a great idea, especially for diabetics who must avoid additional sugar.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Forest Stewardship Council Pulls IKEA Certification for Violations

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Friday February 28th, 2014 | 0 Comments

IKEA_FSC_suspension_Christian_KoehnThe Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has withdrawn its certification of Swedwood, a forestry subsidiary of furniture giant IKEA (which also goes under the names Swedwood Karelia and IKEA Industry).

According to the FSC, a recent trip to the Karelia Forest in Russia revealed that the company has been harvesting old-growth trees in the protected regions of the Russian forest, which is located near the Russia-Finland border.

The subsidiary has leases to log 700,000 acres, as long as it does not cut down old-growth trees and trees in specified areas. According to FSC’s report  there were “major deviations”  from regulations that included the suspected harvesting of 600-year-old trees.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Report: Fugitive Emissions Cancel Out Net Climate Benefit of Natural Gas

| Friday February 28th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Natural Gas well

Natural gas well

Natural gas has frequently been described as a bridge fuel to a low-carbon energy future for at least a couple of promising reasons. Firstly, there’s an abundance of the stuff, and secondly burning natural gas produces only about half the CO2 emissions as coal. In theory, at least, replacing coal-fired power stations with natural gas ones, and converting large trucks from diesel to natural gas, are ways to reap significant real-time climate benefits.

That said, however, there is a general Achilles-heel in the whole natural gas energy system, which is that it’s leaky. Leaks occur not only in production of natural gas, but also in storage and transmission of it, and because natural gas is 80 percent methane (CH4), which is around 30 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2, when it leaks, it’s a big deal.

And it turns out, it’s a bigger deal than previously thought. A new report by Stanford University finds that America’s natural gas system is much more leaky than previously estimated, and maybe up to 50 percent more so than the EPA estimates. Of course, this is pretty significant because the benefits of burning lower-CO2 natural gas as an alternative to coal and oil, must be weighed against the deleterious effects of extensive methane leakage–but how bad is it? And is it bad enough that natural gas cannot be considered a viable bridge fuel to a lower carbon future?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »